When you broke the law, you may not have thought about who would be hurt. There may be a victim, and then there’s your family, friends, even yourself. You may not have even known that you were breaking a law. But you learned that pretty quickly when the police dropped by your house or called you into the station.
If you’ve been referred to Communities for Restorative Justice, it means that you’ve already taken some responsibility. That’s a great start! By participating in this program, you will have a chance to talk about what took place, speak directly with the people you hurt, and work towards repair. Here’s what’s next:
- You’ll receive a mailed referral form from us in the next few days, signed by the police chief. You must sign and send in this form by the stated deadline to opt in or out of the restorative justice option. If you opt out, you won’t hear from us again, and we’ll return the matter to the police. In the referral letter is a password to preview documents posted on this website as you consider this option. We'll also ask you to submit a participation fee of $250 along with your acceptance to cover administrative costs. (We offer a sliding scale for financial hardship.)
- If you opt in, C4RJ staff will call to schedule an Intake meeting at the police station. There, we’ll ask about what happened, explain the process in detail, and ask you to formally sign on.
- If you are facing substance-related charges, you will see a counselor in the area who will assess whether your use of substances should be addressed. C4RJ will receive notice that you’ve met with the counselor, but details of your conversation with the counselor will remain confidential. Costs of these visits will be your obligation.
- C4RJ staff will meet separately with the victim or others affected by the incident.
- We will notify you of the time and place of the Opening Circle. You should treat this date as if it were a court appearance. This will be the first time you’ll meet with the victim, others affected, community volunteers, and a law enforcement officer. Your family or other supporters will attend as well. It will be safe and respectful, ending with a repair plan that you help develop and will complete.
- You’ll work on your repair plan (letters of apology, restitution, service, etc.) over a period of several weeks with the support of a C4RJ trained facilitator. During the period of your agreement, you will be meeting regularly, either in person or by phone, with your facilitator/s. It will be your responsibility to keep these appointments. You are also likely to do some writing in the course of your work with your facilitator/s. If you have difficulty with time management or with writing, please be candid at your Intake meeting and with your facilitator/s so that we can make adjustments if necessary. If you have accommodations at school that help with writing and organization, please let us know.
- C4RJ will reconvene the group for a Closing Circle. We’ll review your efforts and what you learned, and ask whether the victim or others affected are satisfied. If all is well, we’ll close the matter formally.
All told, the process takes two to three months and remains confidential. Read a case story about how it worked for someone else.